Why I Decided To Leave The (LDS) Church.
It may or may not come as a shock to anyone, but in November of 2013, I decided that being a part of the LDS faith was no longer what I felt was right. A few months later, I stopped going to church altogether. I have since "come out" to family and some friends about my faith transition but I have never actually taken the time to explain why I left in the first place.
First, there are many misconceptions about individuals that have left the church. So many, in fact, that I could dedicate a whole separate article listing those. What I have experienced is that usually people are so engrained with the misconceptions that they never actually hear me. They never really take the time to listen. They hear the truths I tell about my transition, but they never actually hear me. They choose to believe their own fallacy.
This is essentially the "agree to disagree" statement. And so, what I have found, is that it is a dichotomy of responses. Either they accept that my experiences in the church were different than the "right" way or they choose to interpret falsely "what's really going on" to pacify their cognitive dissonance.
I understand that some will respond as the latter group. I understand that some will misinterpret me and I understand that I can't do anything to change that.
So why the article?
Because I feel that true freedom comes from authenticity and that being true to myself is where I will find happiness.
. . .
First, let's cover some background. I was born into the covenant (parents sealed in the temple) by parents that loved the church wholly, who were taught by their parents the same ideals and who raised me to also love the church.
I was baptized when I was 8. We attended church every Sunday and mutual every Wednesday. We had scripture study and family prayers. We attended firesides and watched conference every 6 months. We were taught to have reverence and respect for the prophet. I even attended EFY while I was a teen and graduated Seminary. Later, I got a degree from BYU-Idaho (a church school).
I was married in the Arizona temple to an amazing man that had served a full-time mission. We paid tithing every month and went to the temple often. We continued to attend church and both would gladly accept any calling the Lord sent our way.
I was devoted. I mean, devoted to my faith. I had a testimony and I believed--no, knew that the church was true.
So what happened?
Around 2010, I decided that contrary to The Church's stance, I did NOT believe LGBT's chose their sexuality. I remember taking a class at BYUI (a Family Proclamation class) that specifically asked this question. "Individuals who are gay are NOT born that way and simply choose their lifestyle"
I couldn't consciously choose "true". I took the hit and the point lost.
I soon learned that being even a tiny bit liberal in the LDS church is a very lonesome place to be. Rarely did people agree with me and if they did, they were also too afraid to say anything aloud. Those lessons where a well-intended person went off on "those liberals and democrats" in a subtly but knowingly way, it felt as if I was being personally attacked. I was shamed and damned for my different opinions.
But that didn't matter because I knew the church was true and I held on to that. It didn't matter if everyone thought I was going to hell because I supported gay marriage (or abortion, or legalization of marijuana, etc.) because what mattered most was the principles I had been taught my whole life. Trust in the Lord and His mouthpieces and all will be well.
. . .
A few years later, I learned that I didn't even know much about the history of my own church. I knew Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the early saints had struggles, but I didn't really know.
Soon, issues began to pop up and it was a punch to the gut. Since when did Joseph Smith have 40 wives? Some as young as 14 and some that were already married? Why did I never know that Joseph Smith translated most of the Book of Mormon by placing his face in a hat? You mean to tell me that the priesthood bad was on the temple too? So black men and women couldn't receive their endowments nor get sealed in the temple? Since when are there multiple accounts of the first vision with vastly different details?
Then more and more and more unfolded. Pre-1990's temple endowments, Book of Abraham, errors in the Book of Mormon, blood atonement, second anointing, the kinderhook plates.
That was only the history. There were so many unanswered questions about the policies today. Why can't women receive the priesthood? Why do we never talk about Heavenly Mother? Why do mission presidents receive excessive compensation? Why will they not tell us where the tithing money goes?
And piece by piece everything crumbled and I was left alone in a pile of unanswerable questions combined with questionable history, policies, and doctrines.
Deep depression came over me and I felt completely alone and isolated.
Unless you have also gone through a faith crisis, you will never understand the excruciating pain it is to find yourself again after one. I prayed excessively to know truth. I opened my heart to both possibilities. I prayed and cried and prayed some more and I got an answer.
That it is so much bigger than the LDS church.
I felt peace and I knew what I had to do. I asked myself, "Do I believe that God would build a multibillion dollar mall instead of putting that money towards humanitarian relief? Do I believe that God commanded adultery? Do I believe in a God that discriminates eternal life based off of skin color or sexual orientation?"
The answer was a resounding, "NO".
. . .
Of course, this transition happened over a matter of many, MANY months of praying and searching. Tyler was along side me the whole way. Talking and supporting and loving me just the same.
At first, yes, I was angry and very depressed. I felt as if I had been lied to my entire life. I was grieving fiercely. I never wanted this to happen and I never asked for this. It made me angry that I was put through such emotional turmoil. And just like any process of grieving, anger turned to sadness, which turned to bargaining, which turned to denial and then back to sadness. And over and over again.
Looking back now, it was my transformation. It was me emerging from the chrysalis until I was finally free and in the acceptance stage.
When I decided to "come out" to my family, I was expecting the worst. To them, I was rejecting eternal life and damning myself to hell for eternity. I had no clue how they would react and just like any group of individuals, the reactions were mixed. Mostly support, which was unexpected but appreciated. Some condemnation. A little gossip. Hey, jerks exist in every group and I didn't allow it to affect me.
. . .
And that brings us to today. I haven't officially resigned out of respect for Tyler and my family but that's just a formality to me. It doesn't mean anything either way.
I'm rarely angry anymore and I definitely don't hate the church. I support those in my family that still choose the LDS faith. I'm happy that they have found something that makes them happy.
As for me, I don't believe Joseph Smith was a prophet. Nor do I think that the only way back to God is through the church. I don't believe in any of the doctrine or in the Book of Mormon. I don't believe in a God that would command polygamy or polyandry. I don't believe in a God that discriminates eternal life based off of skin color or sexual orientation. I don't believe that the church is led by inspired men now.
And you know what? I am happy.Very happy. Joyful.
I would hope that my friends and family would still choose to love me for who I am and not which religion I affiliate with. In a perfect world, there would be no side-ways glaces of judgement, there would be no gossiping about "what's really going on" and there would be no, "She's being led away by Satan".
In the end though, I think reactions are a good judgement on character and a good indication of who I choose to remain a part of my life. A life that is perfect and whole without The Church.
. . .
"Man looks in the abyss, there's nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss."